The Jessica Lall murder case had generated unprecedented interest. But the curiosity level touched the peak when senior criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani decided to defend key accused Manu Sharma. He gave several twists to the case as he began his arguments.
But it is a different matter that all those have fallen flat with Manu Sharma’s conviction. The High Court said there was enough evidence to show that it Manu who killed Jessica as she refused him drinks. The senior lawyer did not make himself available for comments despite repeated attempts.
On day one of the arguments, Jethmalani termed the case a "big zero" and claimed he would get Manu acquitted in any case.
Suddenly he wanted a change of Bench on the ground that a newspaper report cast aspersion on the integrity of the Justice RS Sodhi. The report had asked how the judge could hear the case as he had once rescued from hearing Manu’s bail plea saying someone had approached him on his behalf.
“I will get Manu acquitted in any case but I don't want people to turn around and say that the court was corrupt and so I won”, he had said. But Justice Sodhi rejected the demand.
Jethmalani’s next twists came as the arguments continued after a break. He said it wasn't Manu Sharma who killed Jessica. A tall Sikh gentleman shot her. And then it became more sensational — the Sikh man was so powerful, that the Delhi Police had actually framed Manu at his behest.
Jethmalani promised to name this villain in the next few days. But the only Sikh whose name ever came up during the trial was Manu's friend and co-accused Amardeep Singh Gill.
The next one - Jessica was killed not for denying something she did not have (liquor) but for something she had. It was a crime of passion and she was killed because she challenged the sexual manhood of her killer. This turned the very motive of the crime on its head.
The prosecution had so far maintained Jessica had been shot in a fit of rage after she refused to serve liquor to Manu and his friends. There was one more when he was winding up his arguments. His client had been acquitted by the trial court, yet he asked for a re-trial of the court felt that Manu had tampered with evidence.
Senior criminal lawyer, Kamini Jaiswal expressed sympathy for Jethmalani: “I am happy that justice has been done. It is sad that that Ram Jethmalani, at the fag end of his professional career had to face this. As a friend, I feel sorry that he has to go through this. Maybe this would make him distinguish between his well-wishers and the people who exploit him,” Jaiswal said, “Jethmalani pitched it too high by saying that this case was not even a zero but minus zero. He should not have taken-up this case after he had retired from professional practice.”